Journey of Disharmony

What are we supposed to think when we see our Prime Minister taking part in Olympic ceremonies alongside regimes that hold an appalling record of human rights violations, yet when our leaders attacked Iraq, part of their post-justifications for doing so was that Saddam grossly abused human rights?  

While many people pour condemnation on the behaviour of some of the protesters at the Olympic torch so-called Journey of Harmony through London, it’s important to remember what the human rights campaigners are angry about.  The torch is on its way to Beijing where as we speak, human rights are being ignored.  Just this weekend, Chinese police opened fire on protesters, killing at least eight people.  I’m sure there are some leaders who would benefit from a sabotaged Beijing games and a ruined Chinese global image and I hate to see it made easier for them but human rights are human rights and as Amnesty International says . . . “Unless the Chinese authorities take urgent measures to stop human rights violations over the coming year, they risk tarnishing the image of China and the legacy of the Beijing Olympics.”

Furtermore, it’s all very well saying that the Olympic games should not be politicised . . . that politics should stay out of sports and vice versa but the games always attract controversy and what better venue is there to promote a cause or make a statement?  I don’t think it’s possible for the Olympic games to be fully disassociated from politics and it’s certainly not possible to disassociate China’s abyssmal human rights record from their hosting of the games.  I feel for the people who have looked forward to receiving the torch and the sportsmen and women who have trained for the games but they can’t hide from the realities which are that China is failing to uphold the Olympic values and until the Chinese rulers confront their own demons and adapt accordingly, I believe our Prime Minister should make some kind of stand.  I’m not calling for a full boycott of the games based on this premise* but surely the brave and right thing to do would be for Brown to insist that China keeps all it’s pre-Olympic pledges before he commits himself to supporting the Beijing games.

Human Rights abuses cannot co-exist with the Beijing Olympics

Athens: August 2007

* although I wouldn’t support a full boycott in this matter, the environmental impact of the Olympic games is a different matter entirely and I would question the logic of holding such major events while the world is still trying to work out how to mitigate climate change.



6 responses to this post.

  1. I have my doubts as to if the riots in Tibet have been egged on by outer influences. I must say the attitude of Tibetan monks belie what their leader, the Dalai Lama, is saying everywhere: that he will resign if the violence BY Tibetans continue, but the actual fact is that he does not resign.

    If we consider the principles of peace and non-violence that have always inspired those monks, it seems absurd that these actions have come to happen now.

    Because what does matter to them, the monks, if it is the Chinese or their lamas who command if their lives are not conditioned by hierarchical moulds?

    I am afraid there is a hidden hand in all these actions which I cannot understand.


  2. Jose, it wouldn’t suprprise me in the slightest if outer influences (the CIA) were involved in some kind of incitement of the Tibetan uprising. as I said in my post, it would be to America’s advantage if the world turned against China.

    But still, it remains that the Chinese regime is brutal. I’ve heard people argue that Britain has no right to sit on the moral highground here in light of the human rights abuses that we ourselves have committed. That’s fair comment but most of the people who condemn China have never endorsed or condoned Britains past actions, nor supported the Iraq invasion and they have every right to protest against China. Some people have also implied that we are being hypocritical to criticise China when we are buying and using all their products. Well that is a harder point to come back on but maybe we should boycott those goods. Thing is, if America is somehow involved in the Tibetan uprising then we are playing into their hands.


  3. I think China’s environmental record will increase dramatically proceeding the games, but the real challenge is in understanding whether or not their commitment to a “green” strategy will stay the course in the years after the Olympics.

    If you want to read details read my post “An Inconvenient Olympics” at I make the argument that the Olympics will be the turning point for a global focus on conservation and “green” for the next decade.

    Hope this adds to the discussion.




  4. Thanks Kent, it’s an important issue. I will visit your blog shortly.

    I was reading about the pollution levels in Beijing. I read that some athletes (mainly the long-distance runners I think) may wear masks because of the high levels of pollution. One runner who suffers from asthma has dropped out of one of the endurance races due to the smog problems.


  5. Other versions of the events in China differ from the news we’ve read and heard in the Western Media. In this connection I’d like to add here, with the corresponding reservations, some videos that appear to belie what we know from our Media.


  6. Well, that’s interesting Jose but how can we get to the truth when the Chinese authorities censor reporters and block the internet? And will journalists report the truth if they did manage to get to it? If they don’t then the Chinese authorities will impose even more restrictions. Seems to me there is propaganda coming from all sides. Like I said, I’d hate to help the American government’s agenda but I do trust Amnesty International . . .


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